Question: "What is the peace that passes all understanding?"
Answer: In Philippians 4:7 we have a wonderful promise: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is important to note the context of this promise, because that’s where we find the condition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (verse 6). God’s peace is promised to guard those who pray—with thanksgiving—about everything. This peace will transcend our ability to understand it.
There are other gifts of God that are not fully comprehensible to us. The gift of salvation is “indescribable” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The complexity and wisdom of God’s plan is inscrutable (Isaiah 55:8–9). According to Ephesians 3:19, the love of Christ is something else so great we will never fully understand it. Likewise, human reasoning is incapable of fully comprehending the peace of God.
The believer who places his or her full confidence in a loving God and is thankful in every circumstance will possess a supernatural peace. An inner calm will dominate the heart. The faithful believer will know peace—his heart and mind are “guarded” by it—despite the tempest raging without. No one, especially those outside of Christ, will be able to fathom that peace. To most, it will remain a mystery how someone can be so serene in the midst of turmoil.
The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with God is not the peace of this world. The world’s peace depends on having favorable circumstances: if things are going well, then we feel peaceful; when things go awry, the peace quickly dissipates. Jesus made the distinction between His peace and the world’s vacillating peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27).
God’s supernatural peace surpasses natural understanding. A cancer patient who experiences a remission of the disease may proclaim, “I am so thankful to God!” That is praise. A cancer patient who is dying and in pain may calmly say, “Everything is all right. I claim Romans 8:28, and I have peace in my heart.” That is “the peace that passes all understanding.”